Monthly Archives: May 2011

Almost Green of Card

It’s been an interesting journey. It began with more forms than I had ink in my pen and continued with a mad chase around London at 5am and then a doorstep wait for a visa that didn’t want to come. Once past the airport authorities, with their rubber gloves (not for me, thankfully, though I did nearly suffer a heart attack), it involved a pile of forms tall enough to serve as an excellent bedside table, two requests for more information that was really the same information, a visit to a doctor called Adolfo who kept asking to see my legs and was convinced I had tuberculosis for no reason, and a flustered biometrics official who locked herself out of her computer and then sprayed me with Windex.

But finally, last Thursday, we came to the final leg, and it was the most pleasant experience of them all. It wasn’t the terrifying interview you see on the movies, in which the immigrant is escorted in an arm lock to the plane if she is unsure what colour socks her new husband is wearing. Instead, we were invited in early, smiled at often, thanked for providing a nice, tidy batch of evidence (including several print-outs of this very blog) and on our way back to the hotel within 15 minutes. Bliss.

Plus we had the opportunity for a road trip, because the interview – naturally – was halfway across the state. Again, an absolute pleasure. The hotel turned out to be 100 yards from where we needed to go and pretty darned comfortable to boot; they even gave us a lift in the morning, because we couldn’t find any parking. After a cheeky trip to the mall and the wolfing down of a pizza on the way back, we snuggled up to watch telly until it was time for bed.

Talking of pizza, we were somewhat concerned it might scupper us, as we’re both a bit addicted¬† and it tends to be the boiled-down answer to every question. For example: “What did you do on your birthday?” “Pizza.” “What did you do to celebrate your first anniversary?” “We’ve only had a six month anniversary, we had pizza.” “What did you do on Valentine’s Day?” “Pizza.”

The interview might not have gone quite so smoothly had they not been satisfied enough with our evidence to believe we’re a proper couple, let’s put it that way. The only thing that went wrong during the entire trip, however, was the passing of the longest and slowest and loudest train in the world, 20 feet behind our room, just as we were going to bed. It made “eeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEscreeeeech… ding ding ding ding ding” noises for an hour and a half. During which Hubby managed to fall asleep, and began snoring. Following which, at 6am, the previous occupant’s alarm went off. My own private cocophony, how lovely.

But, stumbling blocks aside, in six weeks’ time, I should be receiving official word that I am now a citizen of the US of A. The journey is finally over!


Sinister Snacks

In celebration of my dear husband’s scholarly achievements, the family gathered on Saturday afternoon for food, beer and general mischief. These occasions are always cause for excitement, partly because it’s impossible not to have a fantastic time, and partly because I spend the week beforehand salivating at the thought of the food. Burgers, hot dogs, Mum-in-law’s amazing potato salad, Uncle-in-law’s addictive cream cheese jalapenos, baked beans – everything you need to make yourself well and truly sick.

Even I got in on the action, spreading my sweet-toothed joy by providing the desserts. I’ve never been good at cake-making because I’m a bit gung-ho when it comes to presentation, but I was happy enough with¬† the results: I made raspberry cheesecake, mandarin cake with a whipped pineapple topping, rocky road brownies with cookie mix dollops and a marshmallow and chocolate chip topping and popcorn balls with cherries and almonds. Some of the brownies and the second mandarin cake that “fell apart” may have failed to make it to the table.

There was, however, one sinister contribution to the spread. You can see it in the picture below – it looks lovely, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you be tempted to grab one? Don’t they just look melt-in-your-mouth yummy? Would you still be inclined to munch on one if I told you they were Mountain Oysters?

Most people from this side of the pond will now be making a face like a cat’s bum, just as I did when the plate came my way. Mountain oysters, you see, are… not oysters. They are calf testicles.

Yes, you heard me correctly: in this region, the delicacy enjoyed during branding season is cow bollocks. In breadcrumbs. Seasoned. With a delicious dip. But still, despite the dressings, a bovine dangly bit. I believe Grandma Grace, who under normal circumstances is a very elegant, proper lady, summed it up perfectly when she waved one in the air by its toothpick and declared, “I’ve been around too many of these in my life to feel the need to put one in my mouth”.

(Incidentally, Grandma Grace made my day for a second time when she was handed her baby grandson, who had finally calmed down after half an hour of crying. Two minutes later he was testing the top of his lungs again, at which she held him up to his mother and said, “Fixed him”. I felt compelled to share this anecdote with you largely so you could leave this post with a more pleasant mental image than a calf bollock.)

The Star Bangled Spanner…

…as I accidentally renamed the US National Anthem yesterday during a frighteningly routine moment of tripping over my own tongue. Yesterday also marked the day on which my husband graduated from college (or university, if you’re speaking UK English). Before anyone asks, yes, he is a little older than your usual graduate, but no less happy with his new lot.

I was unable to attend my own graduation ceremonies, so my first experience of one turned out to be at an American school. Aside from the numb bum caused by sitting near the top of the bleachers, I had an enlightening – and very proud – time of it watching Hubby traipse about in his cap and gown along with the other 200 people about to enter the big wide world of work. Mom-in-Law and Sis-in-Law were most patient with my barrage of questions (“Why’s he got two cords round his neck, did he do two degrees? Why is that person wearing a yellow one? What’s going on with the Masters programmes, are they always discipline-based? Are those my feet?”) and we all stood proudly (particularly our niece) when various family members were recognised for their contributions and sacrifices.

It was also the first time I’ve heard the National Anthem sung at a public gathering, which turned out to be surprisingly moving, bearing in mind I am not yet a proper citizen. There was, however, a small hitch in my personal proceedings: should I have been holding my hand over my heart, as everyone else was doing? Is it disrespectful for someone of a different nationality to go ahead and join in, or would it have been disrespectful not to? I eventually settled for holding the strap of my handbag, which I reasoned could be taken either way, but I’m still not clear on the correct anthem etiquette for a Legal Alien, particularly one pre-Green Card.

We also witnessed a new officer being sworn into the US Army, having his rank bars attached by someone special to him (his wife) and his CO and giving a silver dollar to the first non-commissioned officer to salute him, to symbolise his gratitude for the help and training his officers had given him. I really am a sucker for traditions, particularly ones that were born from good intentions.

It was a poignant morning in several ways, not least because it was the culmination of all my husband’s hard work. He’s a proper grown-up now. The afternoon involved celebration and good eatings, about which I have a few stories to tell you later…